Sunday, June 1, 2008

Eve Hubbard in '08: Her Crime Policy

At the time of this writing, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are still battling for the Democratic party nomination. As I mentioned in a prior post, my candidate of choice is a character from Robert Anton Wilson's Schrodinger's Cat Trilogy: Eve Hubbard. Today, I want to talk about how she would deal with crime.

Her policy would divide crimes into three classes.

  1. Crimes against convention. This includes all of the "victimless" crimes like gambling, non-violent drug possession, prostitution and the like. These crimes would not be penalized, but if enough people complained, the perpetrator would be encouraged to relocate somewhere more fitting to his habit.

  2. Crimes against property. These crimes would be addressed by restitution. The perpetrator would pay the value of what was stolen or destroyed, or work off the debt.

  3. Violent crimes. A relatively low-population state would be allocated for use as a prison. Violent criminals would be sent there, where they would only pose a danger to each other.

Sound good? There's one problem with this policy: we are nowhere close to being ready for it. There are far too many of us who believe that the country would go to hell in a handbasket if we stopped the drug war or legalized prostitution or allowed gambling outside of licensed casinos and lottery stations. Never mind that all these things happen anyway.

So what could we do in the meantime to improve the situation? My suggestion is simple: reserve prison for violent criminals. Only violent criminals should go to jail, and they should stay there until they are no longer dangerous. The other types of crimes can be dealt with through restitution or "community service" to the extent that they need to be dealt with at all.

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